Understanding Conservation: A Study of Student Attitudes and Understanding of the Effects of Human Activities on Global Ecosystems




Tracy, Sean R.

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There is growing need for environmental literacy in United States public schools (Caldwell, 1996; Kellert, 1997; Wilson, 1984; Zelezny, 1999). This can be achieved through comprehensive integration of environmental issues, not only throughout science curricula, but also by integrating science into all disciplines (Kellert, 1997; Wilson, 1998). The new ecological paradigm (NEP) scale, developed by Dunlap and Van Liere (1978), can be used to measure shifts in attitudes towards the environment. This study aimed to measure student environmental awareness in a mid-Atlantic, suburban, public school. Results revealed a discrepancy in self-reported awareness of the environment, and their score on the NEP scale. This indicated that students may think they are more environmentally conscious than they actually are. Current environmental instruction in the school and county of focus is limited. Integration of these topics throughout the year will help students become engaged, literate environmental stewards.



Environmental education, Outdoor education, Environmental paradigm, Biodiversity, Attitudes, Climate change